At a meeting of the General Committee of the Johannesburg Section held on Monday, 7 June 2010, a unanimous decision was reached to support the Magaliesberg Protection Association (MPA) in taking a decision of the MEC of Northwest Province on appeal to the High Court.
To this end the Committee further agreed to guarantee costs of this court action in the sum of R100,000 to enable the MPA to instruct the attorneys to take the matter further without delay.
The deadline for the MPA’s attorneys to lodge initiating documents is 18 July 2010 and in order to meet that deadline, the attorneys must immediately start working on this enormous task.
Members will be asked to attend a Special General Meeting in the very near future.
The objective of the Special General Meeting is to gain ratification from our Members of the General Committee’s decision to guarantee an amount of R100,000 towards the costs of the high court action, and to further seek approval for the possible expenditure of a further sum of R200,000.
This is an appeal for financial contributions for this exercise. While the Committee has guaranteed the funds, it is hoped that the members will once again pitch in to assist in this legal challenge so that our Land & Access funds are not depleted. This is particularly relevant with the possible up-coming purchase of Wilgepoort. To date we understand that R100,000 has been bequeathed to the MPA by Hermann Vogl’s estate and that the MPA itself does have some funds available, as well as possible funding from Magaliesberg Section. More information in this regard can be found in the attached documents.
In July 2008 members of the Magaliesberg Protection Association (MPA) noticed a massive development, Kgaswane Lodge, taking place inside the Magaliesberg Protected Environment (MPE) at Olifantsnek, while flying with the ‘Bateleurs’. The North West Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Environment had also just become aware of this development and were in the process of prosecuting the developer. However, in March 2009 the MPA learned that MEC had approved the developer’s application for rectification of his development, via Section 24G of the National Environmental Management Act. An appeal was lodged by the MPA, but this was dismissed by the MEC, claiming that the lodge is “in line with tourism for the area”. The Magaliesberg and Johannesburg Sections and the Johannesburg Hiking Club contributed towards the legal costs of this appeal.
Kgaswane Country Lodge is an upmarket hotel situated in an area classified as “highly sensitive” by the Environmental Management Framework (EMF) for the Magaliesberg. The EMF describes developments like Kgaswane as “incompatible activities”. This poses a threat to the declaration of the Greater Magaliesberg Region as a Biosphere under the UNESCO charter. If the decision on this development is not opposed in some way, it could also open up the floodgates for further illegal developments following the 24G route within the MPE. After taking legal advice, the MPA decided to take the MEC’s decision to court on review. This will cost in the region of R300 000 (taking into account a pro bono and a 50% discount from the two senior environmental advocates working on the case, amounting to personal donations of thousands of rands). The MPA hope to be able to put R100 000 towards these costs, leaving R200 000 to be raised by other means. The deadline to lodge the Review is 18 July 2010.
The MPA therefore asks the Johannesburg and Magaliesberg Sections, the Johannesburg Hiking Club and other parties such as the Wildlife Society [WESSA]) to urgently request their members and anyone else concerned about the consevation of the Magaliesberg, for contributions.
In the meantime we appeal to all to contribute any amount, no matter how small. Contributions can be paid into the MCSA account now (asap please!) which will be transferred to the MPA before the deadline.
MCSA Johannesburg Section
Nedbank acc # 1916044239
Killarney Branch Code 191605
REF: MPA Kga + your surname
- The Mountain Club of South Africa owns tracts of land in the Magaliesberg, the conservative estimated value of which is between R25 and R35 million.
- One of the Objectives of The Mountain Club of South Africa is . . .
“Initiate and support actions towards protecting the natural beauty and wilderness character of mountains and to promote their effective Conservation Management”
- There are outside Organisations that could possibly be approached for funding. However, owing to the urgent nature of this matter, we do not have the luxury of time to approach them at this point.
- The R100,000 referred to in the attached PDF document headed “MPA Statement on Kgaswane Lodge May 2010” (copy of which is circulated together with these documents) is a bequest by Hermann Vogl, whose estate has not yet been finalised.
- Whilst this action goes against the grain of what we believe in in The Mountain Club, the Committee feels that we cannot afford not to do anything bearing in mind our commitment to the Magaliesberg, and its future.
NB NB – PLEASE read these attached documents.